By Michael Casagrande, al.com:
Speed ball. Tempo. HUNH. Auburn’s quick-moving offense has many labels and was the center of extensive off-season debate. Alabama coach Nick Saban asked if this style good for the game? A year later, the questions are fewer and the numbers have shifted. The basis of Saban’s discussion about health concerns with the fast offenses centered around the number of snaps in a game. A year ago, Auburn ran 781 plays entering the Iron Bowl to Alabama’s 697. This year, the numbers flipped with the Tide running 811 plays compared to the Tigers’ 783. Since Lane Kiffin arrived, Alabama’s adopted some of the no-huddle principles, but still looks nothing like Auburn’s version.
By Lars Anderson, Athlon Sports:
The head coach felt like he had to do something. After Alabama was stuffed on two 4th-and-short plays in the fourth quarter of last year’s Iron Bowl against Auburn—a game that Alabama would lose 34-28—Nick Saban decided he needed to revamp his offense. Without telling his staff, Saban invited recently fired Lane Kiffin to Tuscaloosa for eight days last December to “brainstorm” and analyze the Tide’s offense, especially its weaknesses. “It was my vacation,” Kiffin joked. Kiffin, who had been unceremoniously fired on a tarmac by USC a few months before, had a long history with Saban.
By RALPH D. RUSSO, Gadsden Times:
Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Mississippi State remained the top four teams in the College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday heading into a weekend when just about all the contenders are facing challenging rivals. TCU was fifth, Ohio State was sixth and Baylor seventh. The only team in the top eight to change was UCLA, which slipped into the eighth spot. For the first time, teams from the so-called Group of Five conferences made the top 25. Boise State moved in the rankings at No. 23 and unbeaten Marshall is 24th. The highest ranked team from outside the Big Five conferences is guaranteed one spot in the four New Year’s Bowls affiliated with the playoff but not hosting semifinals.
By David Paschall, timesfreepress.com:
Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson admits there was a time he briefly lost perspective on the Iron Bowl. Johnson was nearing the end of his first season as Alabama’s defensive coordinator in 1997 under first-year Crimson Tide head coach Mike DuBose. Alabama had won the 1996 Iron Bowl 24-23 at Birmingham’s Legion Field, but the Tide had just endured a third consecutive loss to Peyton Manning and the Tennessee Volunteers. “I told Mike DuBose, ‘It seems more people around here are more hyped up over the Tennessee game than the Auburn game,’” Johnson recalled Sunday night in a news conference. “He looked at me and said, ‘You haven’t lost to Auburn yet.’ I got the message really quick, and it’s obviously huge on both sides.
By MARQ BURNETT, ledger-enquirer.com:
Those questioning the importance of Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon to Alabama’s offense need only to listen to Tide coach Nick Saban’s words. Yeldon hasn’t put up the numbers many expected from the junior tailback going into the season. On the year, he’s the Tide’s leading rusher with 758 yards for an average of 75.8 yards per game. Those stats have Yeldon outside of the top-10 on the SEC’s rushing list. But that hasn’t diminished his value in Saban’s eyes.
By Andrew Gribble, al.com:
The final Monday practice of Alabama’s 2014 season is underway. Here’s the latest from the first Iron Bowl week session. WR Amari Cooper (knee) was with the wide receivers and helping them through drills by simulating a pressing cornerback but he did not run any routes. RB T.J. Yeldon (ankle/foot) appeared to be a full participant during the viewing session. Of note, Tyren Jones was not wearing a scout team jersey while Altee Tenpenny wore No. 44 (Cameron Artis-Payne).
By Phillip Marshall, Athlon Sports:
Containing Heisman Trophy candidate wide receiver Amari Cooper will be crucial to Auburn’s chances of pulling an Iron Bowl upset over Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, but that alone won’t be enough. The scheme of first-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is different than what Auburn has become to seeing at Alabama since Nick Saban took over as head coach in 2007. “He’s got a toy box full of toys over there,” Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said. “His system has been devised to take advantage of all that talent. Whether they are spreading you out with all the speed, multiple formations, they have a very versatile bunch of players and they are utilizing them all.”
By Tom D’Angelo, palmbeachpost.com:
Florida State and Alabama are discussing playing a game in Atlanta to open the 2017 season, according to sources. Florida State has a similar season opener set for 2016 against another SEC team, Mississippi. That game will be in Orlando on Labor Day. The Seminoles opened this year with a neutral-site game, playing Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas, in prime time. Alabama had approached Miami about the 2017 game, but the Hurricanes opted to open the 2018 season against LSU in Arlington and did not want to open successive seasons against Alabama and LSU. Alabama reportedly has also had discussions with Penn State and USC about playing in 2017. Florida State’s non-league schedule for 2015 has low-profile home games — against Texas State, South Florida and Chattanooga — and a road game against Florida.
By Cliff Kirkpatrick, Montgomery Advertiser:
An identity of being an explosive offense developed for the the Alabama football team. The Crimson Tide, ranked No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings, used that to its advantage the first 11 games of the season. And will continue to do so this week for this Saturday night’s Iron Bowl in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide is coming off a 48-14 nonconference victory over Western Carolina last Saturday where it produced 612 yards of total offense. Coach Nick Saban likes what his offense has done, but believes there’s potential to do more. “I certainly feel we are capable and we have to do a better job of executing,” Saban said. “And people have to do a better job of paying attention to detail and understand things have to be exact.”